University of San Diego Autism Conference Goes Beyond Behaviors

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 3, 2008 - Understanding and supporting those living with autism is the focus of the 2008 Winter Autism Conference, hosted by the University of San Diego’s Autism Institute, from Jan. 7-9 at Mother Rosalie Hill Hall.

Dr. Anne Donnellan, USD professor and renowned author, will be joined by national and international experts for this unique event that is open to educators, families, students and professionals who work with persons with the autism label. The theme is "Beyond Behaviors: Supporting Competence, Confidence, and Image."

Topics include:

Understanding sensory and movement differences

Increasing self confidence, competence and self image, as well as the image of persons with autism as presented to the community

The role of development of learning and other support accommodations

Applying dynamic systems theory

The importance of belonging

Humanizing and personalizing positive and effective applied behavioral analysis approaches

Supporting Social/Emotional Development and Communication

Sensitivity Training - Understanding the Lived Experience of Persons with the Autism Label

Providing Relaxation Techniques, Affirmations and Yoga to individuals with the autism label

One highlight of the conference is a presentation by Peyton Goddard, a local woman with autism, who grew up being labeled disobedient and not wanting to communicate. She was considered severely mentally retarded. That didn’t change until 10 years ago when Goddard began working with Dr. Donnellan and learned to communicate using a computer. Goddard, now 32, will use facilitated communication to tell her story and speak on the issue of self-esteem among those living with autism.

Autism advocates and their families will also attend the conference, as well as representatives from the online autism blogging community. For more information, go to

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls approximately 7,500 students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The inauguration of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies brings the university’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Law, Leadership and Education Sciences, and Nursing and Health Science.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.